You may think now that the summer is over that it’s back to work time for those of school age. However the fortunate students who were selected for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) received some firsthand experience in the working world this summer in addition to their paychecks. SYEP is the nation’s largest youth employment program. It connects NYC youth between the ages of 14 and 24 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experience each summer. Students aged 14–15 can participate in paid project based activities, which will help them explore different career opportunities; those aged 16–24 are placed in paid summer jobs in a variety of industries.
“We look to place them somewhere that it’s a meaningful opportunity not just somewhere that they can just work for six weeks. The focus is to connect them to their career aspiration.”
— Luis Fuentes, Deputy Director of Teen Services for St. Nicks Alliance
Luis Fuentes, Deputy Director of Teen Services for St. Nicks Alliance, stated, “We’re placing interns in this community at 250 worksites. We promote the idea that young people are going to be running this community in ten years, and we should better prepare them for that. We tap into every industry: retail, construction, healthcare (placements at twelve hospitals including NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull), education, and arts. We look to place them somewhere that it’s a meaningful opportunity not just somewhere that they can just work for six weeks. The focus is to connect them to their career aspiration.”
The students working on project based activities present their work at an annual showcase. During the process they learned important skills for collaboration. “Programs like this from St. Nicks Alliance help us in the real world. You learn to get past differences of opinion and are willing to sacrifice your ideas for the greater good of the project,” said a participating tenth grader.
A magazine that promoted equality and positivity, finding ways to eliminate poverty and hunger, informing teens about their rights as a protection from police over enforcement, entrepreneurial projects like designing logos and starting a t-shirt company, and creating a community garden to make the community feel welcome; these were among the student projects that were showcased.
Students interested in SYEP placements submit their applications by the spring deadline, usually in April. Employers who are interested in becoming a host worksite for the six-week summer internship period can sign up next spring before the deadline usually set in May.